A couple of weeks ago, I received an email that opened with this: “Not interested in Valentine’s content?” It continued, very sympathetically: We understand this time can be tough. If you would prefer not to receive Valentine’s Day emails this year, you can opt out by simply clicking below. With love, your Etsy friends.
The whole thing made me wonder. Are American consumers so delicate that we can’t deal with Valentine’s Day if we’re without a valentine of our own? Will retailers now follow suit and spare people who are sadly bereft of a mother from the onslaught of Mother’s Day marketing? Or offer non-holiday shoppers relief from the five months-long Christmas advertising blitz?
Valentine’s Day has murky origins. Apparently, there were three different men named Valentine who achieved sainthood. Their individual stories differ, and are not particularly romantic. However, regarding the celebration of love on February 14, there’s this: In the Middle Ages in England and France, that date was commonly believed to be the start of mating season for birds, and thus, a day for romance. Somewhere along the way, those sexy Greek and Roman gods, Eros and Cupid, added their classical spice to the mix.
The oldest known valentine still in existence is a poem written in 1415. I haven’t been able to find the original text, so it may or may or may have gone something like this: Roses are red, violets are blue, thou hast the face of an olde cockatoo.
Times have changed, and romantic love has taken a beating in the past few decades. While I understand the yearning for a knight in shining armor who gallops across the moat carrying a dozen perfect red roses and a two pound box of Godiva, most princesses have moved on toward the notion that true love comes in different flavors, and doesn’t always arrive in the form of a macho man on his high horse.
More and more women are celebrating Galentine’s Day. Marketers have picked up on the vibe, offering “Cupid is Stupid” specials at taverns, restaurants, and entertainment halls. At least one establishment in town advertises a special axe-throwing night for women only. Makes me wonder what shape or form the axe’s target resembles. Also turns my imagination toward a great plot idea for a Rom-Com Crime story.
This year, the Houston Museum of Natural Science invited its members to contemplate the mutual attraction of our Earth and Moon (above). They also encouraged those of us among the Valentine- or Galentine-perplexed to “Take a Bite out of Love” by giving our special someone this: a cockroach that can be cherished, or squished like a bug, according to your heart’s desire.
Valentine’s and Galentine’s Days have another sibling. It’s called Palentine’s Day and it gives us all a chance to tell our best buddies that we love and appreciate them. I like this choice the best.
So today, I wish everyone—my readers, friends, family, and colleagues alike—a very Happy Palentine’s Day!
What’s your favorite thing to do on February 14th?
Gay Yellen is the award-winning author of the Samantha Newman Mystery Series, including The Body Business, The Body Next Door, and the upcoming Body in the News!